The Bake Off Bake Along: Cannoli

I have very strong feelings this week. Some of these feelings are related to the fact that Yan definitely should not have left the tent. I adore Yan and I would have been very happy if she’d have won. I really like Kate too, but I think she was weaker than Yan for Italian week and has been struggling for a little while, as has Stacey. It seems ridiculous than Yan went out, so much so that I got quite cross with Paul and Prue. But the bake off bake along must go on, and cannoli are happening.


This is the other thing I have strong feelings about this week: what they made in the tent. I felt like it wasn’t a great episode and the challenges didn’t hang together very well. Sfogliatelle didn’t seem like a great showstopper assignment, really, because most people don’t know what they are and don’t have a chance of making them, and because even when they’re made correctly they just don’t look very interesting. Pizza is too simple and dull for a technical challenge, especially when you have the bakers just make a margherita. I mean, pizza is great, but I’ve made it so many times that it’d be no fun for me to do as a bake along. And there didn’t seem to be much leeway given for the fact that it was stupidly hot in the tent. Also, with the budget for this show, surely they can afford to air-condition the marquee? Or put in big fans? Or even just open the sides?! It’s almost like they’re trying to make the bakers suffer.


But. But. The thing that redeemed this episode for me is that it included cannoli. I love cannoli. I have said it before and I will say it again. They are one of my absolute favourite desserts. But I have never made them before, because they look really hard. I don’t have a deep fat fryer. And you have to have cannoli tubes, and who has those?

Well, me. Now I have those. I purchased cannoli tubes for this bake off bake along. Which is nuts. But this felt like the time to finally bite the bullet and do it, because I have always wanted to be able to make cannoli myself.

Not going to lie: making cannoli is fairly labour intensive. It also requires quite a bit of kit. The dough itself isn’t too hard to put together, but then you need a pasta machine to make it thin enough to work with. As with fresh pasta, yes, you could use a rolling pin, but it would take a lot of time and effort to get the dough as thin as it should be. You’d then have a much easier time of it if you had a deep fat fryer. I don’t, so I just deep-fried my cannoli tubes in a pan of oil on the hob, and kept an eye on the temperature with a sugar thermometer, but it was quite hard to regulate and a fryer that kept a consistent temperature would have been so much easier. Finally, you do need cannoli tubes. Luckily they’re really cheap, but I did have to go to the effort of actually ordering them online.

So, all in all, this was a stupid thing to do. But they were so tasty. I was very proud of my little cannoli shells, which bubbled and went golden and crisp, exactly as Paul and Prue had said they should. I feel like making cannoli in and of itself was enough of a challenge, so I haven’t made three different types. I sort of intended to, but when it came down to it I just ran out of time. I stuck with classic flavours: ricotta; mixed peel; dark chocolate. Happy days. They were really delicious, and I was actually quite proud of myself, which I’m not usually after these bakes!


The Recipe

Obviously I didn’t have a clue what I was doing here, so I slavishly followed this recipe. It all seemed to work without any issues, although I did end up adding some extra flour to the dough, because it seemed a bit too sticky and difficult to work with at first. I also dipped the ends of the cannoli tubes in chocolate because… well, because dipping things in chocolate means never having to give a reason.

Sadly, cannoli don’t keep very well, because as soon as you pipe the ricotta mix into the shells they start to soften and go soggy. It just means you have to eat them all very quickly. Which is tragic, obviously.


Cherry & Coconut Chocolate Tiffin

Tiffin is one of those things that seems so simple it barely warrants a recipe. I mean, really, what am I telling you to do here? Crush some biscuit, mix it up with some other bits and pieces, and cover it in chocolate. Hurrah, you have tiffin. You don’t need me to tell you how to do that. You can definitely do it all by yourself.

That said, the reason you are getting a recipe for tiffin today anyway is because I’d forgotten how delicious it is. Sometimes I get wrapped up in things like messing around caramelising white chocolate, or developing an apricot, hazelnut, and cardamon cake. Which is all well and good. But it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures. Tiffin is definitely a simple pleasure. And yet, somehow, I haven’t made it for years.


I actually remember the last time I made it very well: it was when I lived in my old flat and had just gotten together with James. We had friends over, I’d made tiffin, and I went to get a bottle of wine out of the fridge and the the shelf on the fridge door somehow broke. A glass bottle of tonic water fell out and shattered over my arm, and I still have the scar from where they had to pull a bit of glass out at minor injuries. Maybe I have subconsciously been avoiding tiffin since, due to traumatic associations.

Tiffin is, incidentally, one of James‘s favourite things. He nods and smiles politely when I produce some towering, massively over the top cake, but given that his other favourite thing is rocky road, I think he’d  secretly be happiest if I just kept it simple.



Obviously you can make any number of adjustments to this. Dark chocolate on top? White chocolate on top? Swirly marbled chocolate on top? All fine. Prefer hazelnuts to pistachios? Got some raisins but no cherries? Think coconut is the devil’s work? Make your own adventure. This is just a tiffin combination that I happen to like. Rich tea biscuits, digestives, and gingernuts also make excellent bases here, in case you don’t like Hobnobs (you’re wrong though, by the way).

I have used an 18cm round cake tin here, purely because I felt like cutting the tiffin into wedges. You could also use a 20cm square tin if you’d prefer tiffin squares or bars. Finally, you could double the recipe very easily and use a large traybake tin or well-lined roasting tin to feed a bigger group.


120g butter
60g golden syrup
25g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
225g Hobnobs/oat biscuits
70g dried cherries
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
50g dessicated coconut
200g milk chocolate


  1. Line a non-stick 18cm (or thereabouts) cake tin with baking parchment. Melt the butter, golden syrup, caster sugar, and cocoa powder together in a large saucepan over a gentle heat.
  2. While they’re melting, roughly crush your biscuits (either by putting them in a sandwich bag and bashing them, or blitzing them in the food processor) until you have a mixture of fine crumbs and some fairly big chunks.
  3. When your syrup mixture has melted to a glossy dark liquid and the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat. Mix in the crushed biscuits, then the cherries, pistachios, and coconut. Make sure everything is well combined.
  4. Spoon your mixture into your prepared cake tin and press it down in an even layer. Pop the tin in the fridge to chill while you melt the chocolate. Melt your chocolate either in the microwave on low heat or in a glass bowl over gently simmering water. Pour melted chocolate over the cooling base and give it all a shake so the chocolate is even, then put the whole thing back in the fridge to set for around 1 hour, or until the chocolate is firm.
  5. Cut, serve, try to resist eating whole thing at once by yourself.